Sunday, January 22, 2017

Prologue to a Central American Quest

Ever since Team WestEnders started going on annual Summer Adventures (back in 2009), I've always fulfilled the unofficial Travel Agent role--proposing possible destinations, researching all the particulars, booking the reservations, and making the payments. And I L-O-V-E doing this, don't get me wrong...but when it came time to think about this year's vacation, I just sort of found myself...lacking inspiration. You see, it just so happened over time that we've fallen into a pattern: domestic trip alternating with international holiday. Following the plan, 2017 is supposed to be a passport-required, (typically) tropical, (hopefully) all-inclusive getaway. But--aside from the vague idea of "an island...somewhere", I wasn't what you'd call "teeming with ideas".

So, for the first time, I threw it out there to the Male Trio for assistance. Now, Derek sort of  shrugged helplessly...and most likely forgot about the question 10 minutes after I posed it. Husband and Riley, however, set themselves enthusiastically to the task, and began scouring the Internet for options. When I requested an update, they reported that their main focus was "We want more rainforest!" Apparently they'd enjoyed Costa Rica so much in 2015 that they were itching to experience that kind of locale again. And after much deliberation, they settled on (drumroll): Belize! Allllrighty, then...a country we know absolutely nothing about...but at least this gives us something concrete on which to focus our efforts and attention! Well done, Staff--er...I mean "family"!

Then...the days and weeks passed....the holidays came and went...and I heard nothing new on the Operation Travel front. When I tried to pump Riley for information--since he was the one around when I remembered to ask--he responded, "Oh, Dad said that you're the one who always makes the arrangements!" Oh, suuuuure...the implication being, of course, that "our work here is done, and Mom will take over with the actual, you know, millions of DETAILS that go into setting up a successful week-long excursion". Ay yi yi.

Well, at least now I knew that the metaphorical baton had been passed off to me, so I could get down to the business of making our imaginary beach escape a reality. First things first: lodging. Usually when we venture outside the U.S. I consult AAA for guidance. But it was MLK weekend, and I had free time, so I decided to start looking around by myself and see how far I got before calling in professional reinforcements. I won't bore you with the endless scrolling through of "this hotel", "that area"...blah blah blah...that I did in my preliminary study--it's much more interesting to just skip to the part where I stumbled upon a small, boutique-type, eco-friendly property that, from the photos and descriptions on the website, looked and sounded absolutely AMAZING.

Seriously, it's on the shore--as in "walk out your front porch onto the sand"--and offers exactly the kinds of activities we want, such as snorkeling the world's second longest barrier reef, visiting Mayan ruins, and trekking a jungle and waterfall hike. Um...yessss...sign us right the heck up, please! Naturally, the boys were a wee bit concerned about the, ahem, "dining situation", since this resort is much less expansive than others we've previously stayed at, but I assured them that they make it seem as though they'll provide plenty of food. And as a bonus, on the website in bold letters, it proclaims that if you're vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, lactose intolerant....or have any other dietary concerns...they will gladly accommodate you. (Happy dance--I'll be able to EAT there!)

I did feel that there was one teensy little item I'd better get out in the open right away, to avoid any overblown fits of astonished outrage when we arrive: there isn't a TV...or the room. (I know, right? GASP!) This meant that Derek could go ahead and get his mini (mostly mock) tantrum over with before we even embark on our expedition. Lest he EVER dare to say he might be bored, however, I pointed out that along with the 30-acres of grounds (encompassing several different types of natural environments) that are open for one's wandering pleasure...and the nearby village with local cultural performances...and the pool...and the OCEAN...kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and stand-up paddleboards are all available for guest use...for free. I'd say we should be quite entertained, wouldn't you?

Also, I warned everyone that the whole "getting there" itself promises to be somewhat different...and more involved....than anything we've done before. It involves a 2-part flight to Belize...followed by a 20-minute jaunt in what I assume will be a tiny plane, taking us to an which point a vehicle from the resort will pick us up to shuttle us the rest of the way. (I can already tell you that, following just this small portion of the excitement, I'm already gonna be feeling all "Juana the Explorer"...and whatnot...)

After sharing all this with the guys, I was given the emphatic thumbs-up to go ahead and put down a deposit, so I placed a call and spoke to someone at the front desk. Yes, that took a minute for me to process: I'm on the phone...with Belize. (Whooaaaaa....super cool!) Now, barring any unforeseen complications, all that's left to do is purchase airline tickets, and we'll be (literally) good to go. When I attempted to discuss this final step with Husband, noting several factors I was weighing and considering, and how they significantly affected the costs, he held up a hand in the universal sign for "Buhbuhbuh--don't tell me anything!" And just in case there was any chance I could misinterpret the gesture, he added a vehement, "I don't wanna know how much it is! It's vacation!" ('s a good thing he trusts me so much, yeah?)

So as usual, there was an initial burst of WHOO HOO, we're going someplace 6 months! Then the emotional high wore off, of course....and now, we wait. Oh, and let's not forget the very important chore of handing over the moolah for all those pesky bills that go into securing such a trip. That's right, get the painful part over with, so at the end of July, we'll be having all the fun, baby! Now if you'll excuse me, I might go make myself a mango smoothie to set the right mood....for trying to dig up airline deals. (Ooh, this could be rough...I'd better make it a double...)

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